On YouTube, Clinton-Trump Debate No. 2 Views Up 40% Over First Clash

Todd Spangler
Variety

YouTube said global views of live and on-demand video of Sunday’s confrontational and uncomfortable second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were 40% higher than their initial Sept. 26 meeting.

That’s as the U.S. television audience for Clinton-Trump face-off was was down 21% from the first go-round.

The second debate generated over 124 million views on YouTube from Sunday to Monday, representing a 40% increase compared with the first presidential debate over a comparable time frame, which drove 88 million views, according to the Google-owned video giant.

Live viewing on YouTube, however, was lower than the first Clinton-Trump debate: On Sunday night, YouTube had about 1.5 million peak concurrent viewers (compared with nearly 2 million for the first debate), serving over 2.5 million live watch hours (vs. 3 million live watch hours for debate No. 1).

YouTube’s numbers aren’t comparable to the TV metrics. First, the YouTube viewers are worldwide, while the Nielsen numbers cover only the U.S. After the U.S., top countries of the second Trump-Clinton debate by viewership on YouTube were Canada, Mexico, Australia, Great Britain and Vietnam.

In addition, YouTube does not report average viewership per minute for its live streams, which is the metric that Nielsen uses to gauge the size of TV audiences.

One explanation for the lower TV ratings: NBC didn’t air the debate, instead broadcasting the NFL “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, which drew 14.84 million viewers from 8:30 to 11 p.m., per Nielsen. The football game also may have contributed to greater on-demand viewing of the debate on YouTube among those who didn’t tune in live.

YouTube live-streamed coverage of the second debate in St. Louis from seven media partners: NBC News, CBS News, Fox News, PBS, the Washington Post, Univision and Telemundo. On average, YouTube viewers watched the second debate for nearly 25 minutes.

In addition to the debates, YouTube said commentary around the 2016 election season continues to be popular among site visitors. Comedy sketches from late-night shows were among the weekend’s most-viewed videos leading up to the debate, such as “Saturday Night Live’s” Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton Debate Cold Open (15.7 million views to date) and Jimmy Fallon’s “Donald Trump Calls Madea” (3.5 million views).

YouTube plans to stream the final presidential debate next Wednesday, Oct. 19, live from Las Vegas.

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